Friday, 9 September 2016

Anitbiotic resistance

Journalists specialising in the field of antibiotic microbial resistance (AMR) are expecting a significant statement from the United Nations after the General Assembly of later this month. Maryn McKenna in particular has been prominent in efforts to educate the American public. She is hopeful that there will be a stimulus to international action as a result of the UN's deliberations.

As acknowledged by Ms McKenna, the UK's Conservative-LibDem coalition government commissioned a wide-ranging review of AMR in 2014. Even before then, the Department of Health and professional journals were warning against the indiscriminate prescription of antibiotics, even in the case of viral infections. It is worrying that while GPs have taken these concerns to heart, there is still popular belief in antibiotics as a magic bullet. Denied antibiotics on the NHS, ignorant people are turning to private doctors or even online sites.

But prescribing policy is not the only area of concern. There is evidence that resistance can be passed on in meat. As long ago as 1998, the EU started banning the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in the rearing of animals - incidentally, an example of the benefits of qualified majority voting in the EU. It is probable that one of the reasons for deadlock in TTIP negotiations is that the USA is more relaxed about the prophylactic use of antibiotics in farming and continues to insist on unrestricted access to European markets of American meat as a condition of TTIP. You might consider lobbying Liam Fox MB to ensure that any future trade deals independent of the EU do not commit us to importing meat from countries which allow indiscriminate use of antibiotics in agriculture.

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